By Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp
I generally take a tough stance on marketing for small businesses. The first thing that entrepreneurs must do in terms of marketing their businesses is to be absolutely clear on what differentiates them in the market. In other words, when a potential customer asks, “Why should I buy from you?” an entrepreneur needs to be able to answer clearly, concisely, and confidently.
When this has been achieved, and you know what your differentiator is, the best and cheapest form of marketing is getting out there in front of a client and being able to tell your story. Too often, small business owners rely on marketing as a kind of saviour for their businesses. They are too afraid of rejection to call and meet with their clients.
Once you are in front of your client, the most important piece of marketing collateral you have is your business card. The business card is often undervalued and misused, despite being widely recognised as a networking tool of fundamental importance. A professionally designed business card printed on high quality paper conveys a strong first impression of your company, and the information on it can be used as a means of opening up a conversation about what your business does and what makes you unique.
Two other extremely important marketing tools are a regularly updated and functioning company website and a leave-behind brochure outlining your company’s products or services. With a limited budget, these are the three marketing tools that I would recommend an entrepreneur to focus on.
Once these tools have got you in the door, make sure that you have a well-designed, easily customisable proposal template that can be used to quickly pull together detailed proposals for specific clients.
The best form of marketing is a happy client who is prepared to endorse your products or services. You should be asking your clients whether they would be willing to make such an endorsement for your company. If your products or services are not creating happy clients, then all the marketing in the world will not be able to help your company in the long run!
It is important for entrepreneurs to understand that marketing is merely one part of a larger process. Marketing creates leads and provides support for the sales process, which in turn leads into the delivery of services or products. At Raizcorp, we strongly advocate working on this process in reverse. In other words, entrepreneurs must first focus on their ability to deliver their product or service. Once their delivery is assured, they should then look at their sales techniques. Only once they are able to sell their product, should they begin to look at marketing to improve their sales pipeline. The reason for this is simple: if you spend money on marketing without being able either to sell or deliver your product or service, then you have wasted that money.
About Allon Raiz:
Allon Raiz is the CEO of Raizcorp. In 2008, Raiz was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and in 2011 he was appointed for the first time as a member of the Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship. Following a series of entrepreneurship master classes delivered at Oxford University in April 2014, Raiz has been recognised as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Follow Allon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/allonraiz.